Same Ol’, Same Ol’ by Jim Johnson

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You’ve heard the definition of insanity, right?  “Doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results.”  Yet (if we are honest), we all are guilty of this from time to time.

Here we are in the middle of 2018.  Are you achieving the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?  Is your team meeting and exceeding their KPI’s?  If not, perhaps it is because while your goals may have changed, your behaviors did not.

Why do we set new goals yet hold on to behaviors that we adopted years ago?  Probably because we are comfortable with what we know.  Also, many of us do not like to be pushed and a great many of us do not like change.

So if you want better results, what’s a leader to do?  Try this:

Shock test.  Sit down with your team leaders and ask them “if we had to produce drastically better results (i.e. 100% improvement) in the next 90 days:

  • How would we approach our work differently?
  • How would we feel about our work?
  • What would we hear ourselves saying to each other, our customers, ourselves?
  • How would our team’s focus need to change?

I actually ran this experiment last fall.  Some of my managers still use the lessons they learned today and are getting more done with more intentional focus.

Read.  Most of the ideas I get come from reading that I’ve done or am currently doing.  Not that a specific idea comes from an author, but reading opens my mind to new concepts – a new way of thinking.  When that happens, I’m in a mental environment where I can see new possibilities and try new things.  And by reading, I don’t just mean books.  Blogs, magazines, LinkedIn content.  Expose yourself to new ideas and you’ll find new ideas to adopt and apply to get better results.

Network.  Find local leaders (or online leaders) and connect with them.  Pick their brains on ways they are working to become better.  I know you will find great insight and inspiration from doing this.

Brainstorm.  Get your team leaders together and, as a group, brainstorm on how you can improve.  Push each other to think differently.  Years ago, I read about the marketing team that was responsible for increasing sales of Raid – the bug spray.  The team came together to figure out a way to jump start lagging sales results.

Raid

At one point, someone in the meeting asked, “what would we not do with Raid?”  The group sat silently for a bit until someone said, “We could make it smell better.”  Again, more silence.  Then they began to discuss why the insect-killing spray smelled badly.  Why couldn’t Raid smell better?  So they experimented and created a more fragrant bug spray.  And sales increased.  All because in a brainstorming session someone asked a different question.

Accountability.  Many times our teams are not meeting expectations because we have failed to hold them accountable for their performance.  Coaching sessions have lost their edge.  Metrics are not talked about.  The team begins to live to the lowest common denominator (i.e. no one should rock the boat).  Poor performance is glossed over.

It has been said that leaders should inspect what they expect.  And that should be done regularly.  It should be documented.  Wins should be celebrated.  Falling short must be addressed.  Accountability gets your team living in “real-ville” quickly and consistently.

Accountability says that competence matters.  Competence leads to confident team members.  All this leads to better customer engagement and improved results.

Same ol’ same ol’ does not work.  Be different.  Do differently.  Become better.

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The Team That Eats Together, Stays Together by Jessica Stillman

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You, you there, holding the third, bland turkey sandwich you’ve shoved in your mouth for lunch this week, put it down right now!

That’s the message from Alex Lorton, co-founder of food start-up Cater2.me. Your schedule may force you to wolf down something less than super appetizing alone at your desk every once in awhile. But if, as a business owner, you haven’t at least considered getting your team to together for a midday meal from time to time, you’re missing out on a seriously good opportunity to spark conversations, build bonds and get their creative juices flowing.

Cater2.me allows teams of 10 or more accomplish this by connecting them with catered meals to suit even finicky requirements (or voracious appetites for BBQ) from local chefs, food carts and general purveyors of tastiness in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago. But if you’re elsewhere, Lorton feels that you don’t need a service like his to reap the benefits of breaking bread together. What are they?

Calories and Conversation

Food isn’t simply about calories and vitamins. It’s also a tried and tested way to start conversation. Just think of how many times you’ve struck up a cocktail party chat by commenting on the food, though Lorton offers another example of the how food can catalyze conversation.

“Where do you go with your friends when you really want to have a good conversation? You go to dinner,” he told Inc.com.

And this is particularly important in the modern, wired workplace where we spend so many hours staring at screens. “What I’ve seen from modern workplaces I go into, especially tech offices, is so many people are there with their headphones on staring at a computer. That’s just the the way the workplace has gone,” he says. But with the appearance of the Cater2.me crew, “we actually see people lift their heads up to see what’s coming in for lunch. That’s a way to draw people away from what can become a very solitary workday,” Lorton adds.

Getting the Most Out of Lunch

So what are Lorton’s tips for getting as much refreshment and idea and culture-generating conversation out of your shared meals as possible? First provide the right infrastructure — a space to sit down and eat together with plenty of chairs and table space is best if you have the room. Then provide the conversation starters. Put simply: “lunch shouldn’t be boring.”

Repetitive uninspiring offerings aren’t just less tasty, they’re also less likely to spark the kind of informal talk that will bond your team and help them come up with innovative ideas about not just what to order but also how to improve you business. “We’ll actually have the chef come in and do the final bits of assembly right on site to make it more interactive,” Lorton offers by way of example. “Those kind of things add a little extra social element, bringing people together and having them talk.”

But you don’t need a guy flipping made-to-order crepes in your break room. Simply spending some time finding lesser known vendors and cuisines can get the conversational ball rolling. “Seek out local providers. Rather than going to Subway, find the local artisan sandwich shop,” he suggests. Your team won’t just discuss the prosciutto and salami, they’ll also end up chatting about ways to improve your products and services too.

“The idea of breaking bread together is really, really powerful,” Lorton concludes.

Do you agree?

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist. @EntryLevelRebel

“Git-r Done” – Results Matter

by Jim Johnson

As a manager/leader of a team, what you known for at work? What is your team known for?

* a nice group of people
* “he’s/she’s been here a long time”
* drama
* aloof
* wow

You and I both have something in common. We can, in part, control our destiny in our careers. As I wrote earlier, we can be either passengers or drivers on the journey to success. One of the main ways we can advance is by performing – getting things done.

Corporate Goals

Every company has them. They are the WIGs – the Wildly Important Goals as detailed in the “4 Disciplines of Execution”. At my company, we call them the “Measures that Matter”. They get communicated at staff meetings, all employee meetings, and on the intranet. We’re supposed to not only know them, but move them forward. These are the things that positively impact the bottom line.

If you want to succeed, make sure you and your team are doing the things that move your corporate goals in the right direction. If you have a sales goal, work to exceed that goal. If you have a service goal, do what you need to do to have your team become the poster child for service.

Hitting a corporate goal isn’t magically done. You need to discover the leading indicating behaviors that your team needs to habitually do in order to hit those big goals. If you wait until the goal results are posted, it’s too late. You need to act now to move those measures in the right direction.

Innovation

Is there a process that needs improved? Get your team together and figure out a better way to do it. Have you uncovered an issue that if fixed would improve customer loyalty? Map out the improvement, sell the idea, and collaboratively solve it.

Don’t wait for someone else to come up with great ideas. Use your experience, the talent on your team, and your own unique gifts to dream, question, and experiment.

Get Involved

Project teams are always going on in companies. Get on one. Lead one. Get your team involved. be known as a go-to team. You and your team will learn so much from participating on teams.

Help Others Succeed

If your team is a support system for another team, work to find ways to make their jobs easier. Find efficiencies that will benefit them. Communicate change clearly. As Zig has said, “if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll find that you will get what you want”.

Focus

It’s so easy to get side tracked at work. Office drama. HR issues. Change.

As a leader, your job is to help your team stay focused. Focused on results. Focused on improvement. In staff meetings, in your walk-a-rounds, in your coaching sessions, in your emails, keep your team focused on success. Don’t let up. Don’t give up. Make it fun. Let your team know that you and your message of focus are not going away.

Don’t wait for something to happen at work – make it happen. Celebrate your team’s success. Recognize their efforts when they hit and exceed their goals. Constantly coach. Council as needed – don’t delay getting someone refocused.

Your positive efforts won’t go unrecognized. Results matter.

Why Failure is not the Opposite of Success

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By Peter Barron Stark | March 4th, 2013 | Leadership

Michael Jordan, maybe the greatest basketball player of all time, was cut from his varsity team at Laney High School in Wilmington NC. In the NBA, Jordan went on to miss more than 9,000 shots and lost over 300 games. Twenty-six times he was entrusted to take the last shot and win the game…but missed. But when asked about failure in his famous Nike commercial, Jordan said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Jordan is right. The opposite of success isn’t failure. The opposite of success is not trying. If you seldom fail, there’s a good chance you’re playing it too safe. J.K. Rowling, who became one of the wealthiest people in the world because of the Harry Potter series, stated, “It’s impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all.”

The following six tips will help you to push the envelope of failure and truly be the leader who is able to make your team one of the most admired in your company or industry.

Set a goal to outlearn your competition: If your goal is to be a leader, get out in front. What I mean by this is that you need to be thinking and learning about new ways to do things. Maybe it’ll be improving a process, providing even higher levels of service to customers or introducing a new product. Think, learn and then put the outcome of what you have learned into action. Action is what changes the world.

Create and Innovate: To create and innovate, you need to set aside time to think. If you spend all your time doing tasks that take little thought, and hold a high chance of success and accomplishment, you leave very little of your time to be creative and strategically think. Creation and innovation result in change. And with all change, it’s uncomfortable and there’s a chance for failure. Don’t let that stop you.

Fail faster and more often: When asked about failure at Google, Research Director, Peter Norvig, said, “We do it by trying to fail faster and smaller. The average cycle for getting something done at Google is more like three months than three years. And the average team size is small, so if we have a new idea, we don’t have to go through the political lobbying of saying, ‘Can we have 50 people to work on this?’” This is such a great point. If you set a goal to fail more often and faster, there is a good chance that the impacts of a potential failure, won’t be that great.

Be resilient: Unless you are lucky and everything thing you do and touch turns to gold, you’ll have failure in your life. When you ask successful people about adversity, most times they will tell you that it is the adversity and failure that has enabled and propelled them to be successful. Tom Hopkins, the great sales trainer said it best, “I never see failure as failure but only as the negative feedback I need to change my course of direction.” Make a note about what you learned, get excited and move forward quickly.

Have a sense of humor: If you have the ability to laugh at yourself and your failures, you will create an environment where others will be comfortable making a mistake or trying something that doesn’t work.

Celebrate success and failure: Celebrating success is easy. Celebrating what did not work takes guts. In fact, most leaders think that the best way to handle someone else’s failure is to not say anything about it. But, when a leader has the guts to say, “I wanted to bring some special recognition to Sandy in today’s meeting. A lot of you know that Sandy spent the last month developing a new process for our software. We implemented it last week and many of you know, it didn’t work as planned. But I want to recognize Sandy for three reasons. First, she had a vision to improve our system. Second, she had the guts to try a new idea that we had no guarantee that it would work. And third, after it failed, she came into my office and said, ‘I am not giving up. It did not work this way but there has to be a way that will be significantly more efficient for us to operate.’ Sandy, you make me proud. Let me know what else you need from me or the team to make this work.”

As you think about the significant successes you have accomplished to date, you’d most likely agree that anything worthwhile that you have ever accomplished took more than one attempt to get it right. Most significant successes are preceded by a series of attempts that didn’t quite produce the results we were initially trying to achieve. With that in mind, develop a healthy respect for failure, seeing it as a part of the continuum to success, not the final result. Remember, the opposite of success is not failure, it’s not trying in the first place!

Peter Barron Stark Companies is a nationally recognized management consulting company that specializes in employee engagement surveys, executive coaching, and leadership and employee training. For more information, please visit http://www.peterstark.com